Until recently, polyamide PA6 has been associated primarily with industrial manufacturing methods, however, for some time it has been successfully used by users of desktop 3D printers. The material has gained popularity due to its properties – ready 3D prints combine high strength with chemical and thermal resistance, and can be further processed.
The material is not only of high mechanical strength, but also of good surface finish, which is why it is used for the production of both prototypes and ready machine elements. It is the right solution for the production of parts that can well withstand mechanical loads (e.g. gears, bushings and guides).
WHAT SHOULD YOU NEED TO PRINT FROM NYLON?
PA6 is a much more difficult material in 3D printing than popular PLA or ABS. Its operating temperature range is 250-270°C, so you should ensure a suitable working environment with the material, so that the material does not shrink – closed working chambers of the 3D printer are recommended. The contraction of the outer edges leads to curling and disturbing the dimensional integrity of the 3D print. Remember that nylon readily absorbs moisture from the air, so it’s best to store it in a waterproof bag with a moisture absorber. To improve the quality and repeatability of the process, you can also bake spools of material in a dedicated device or ordinary kitchen oven before 3D printing.
What materials are the best to print to get the best 3D prints? Below is a list of five materials based on PA6 for 3D printing in FDM technology.
1. PA 6 NAT WITH VERY GOOD ADHESION AND DURABILITY
Tarfuse ® PA6 NAT is a filament by Grupa Azoty S.A., made of high quality polyamide 6. It has very high interlayer strength, which results in very good layer adhesion. It also has high mechanical properties due to its high crystallinity. This makes it ideal for specialized applications because Tarfuse PA6 NAT meets the high requirements of products in the automotive, electronics, rail and transport industries.
2. STRONG AND ABRASION RESISTANT – NYLON PA6 LOW WARP
Another polyamide based material is PA 6 Low Warp by Spectrum Filaments, which has extremely high mechanical resistance compared to other plastics. It is enriched with particles that reduce shrinkage of the material during printing to around 0.3%. It is also resistant to chemicals and temperature. Due to these unique properties, it is used in many technical applications, such as production equipment, gears and plain bearings, as well as sealing rings and plates with increased chemical and corrosion resistance.
3. CARBON FIBER-doped POLYAMIDE – PA6 MCF12
Another filament of the Azoty Group is Tarfuse ® PA6 MCF12, which is doped with ground carbon fiber. It is characterized by low shrinkage of the material during printing and low susceptibility to warping. Due to the low content of doped particles, the print speed is similar to traditional material, without reinforcement. PA6 MCF12 has good mechanical and antistatic properties.
To obtain electrically conductive properties, with good strength and antistatic parameters, we should choose Tarfuse ® PA CF10. In addition, the material has a reduced water absorption, which will facilitate the process of material exploitation.
4. PA6-GF – GLASS FIBER POLYAMIDE
Relatively recently, polyamide and fiberglass composite filaments have appeared on the market, which are distinguished by excellent thermal and mechanical properties. PA6-GF filament contains about 25% glass fibers, which makes it resistant to temperature. The content of doped particles makes the material highly abrasive, and at the same time does not affect the adhesion of the layers. After printing, the element should be annealed to achieve the best mechanical and thermal properties of the material. The material is mainly used in the transport, automotive, electrical engineering industries, as well as in machine construction.
6. PA6 GK10 – POLYAMIDE REINFORCED WITH GLASS BALLS
PA6 GK10 is another type of fiber doped material based on PA6, which is filled with glass microspheres. It is a high-temperature construction material with a higher elasticity than polyamide without additives. Due to the content of glass balls, PA6 GK10 is a good electrical insulator and can work at relatively high temperatures (up to 160℃).
In addition, the material is not abrasive to the nozzles and does not degrade them, unlike PA6-GF and is lighter than pure polyamide. It is used as a material for functional prototyping, the production of gears and toothed bars, and for the production of parts for final use.